How to Add a Skylight in Just 2 Hours #0521182


TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Happy Memorial Day. It’s here. Summer has officially arrived. It’s the big kickoff weekend. So, for us, though, that’s an extra day for home improvement, of course, and maybe an extra project.

LESLIE: Can we barbecue in the – can I have a barbecue just for fun?

TOM: Yeah, you can do that. Yeah, absolutely.

LESLIE: Alright.

TOM: You have my permission.

LESLIE: OK, good.

TOM: So, if you’ve got a project that maybe you are just rushing to get done for some folks that are coming over or perhaps this is the time when you finally sort of sit down for the first time and think about ways you want to improve your outdoor-living space, that’s an awesome project to take on. Or maybe you’re still fixing up something inside your house. Whatever it is – décor, repair, maintenance – we’d love to chat about it. 888-MONEY-PIT is our phone number. Or you can post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at

Hey, coming up on today’s show, do you have a room in your home that could use a bit of color but painting the entire room is just way too much work? Well, we’re going to have some tips on how you can add pops of color with very minimal effort and very maximum impact.

LESLIE: And also ahead, the garbage can in your house, especially your kitchen garbage, is probably the most underrated appliance in your home. That’s right, I’m calling it an “appliance” because you use it every day and it serves a purpose until it stinks. Then, all of a sudden, you’re like, “Wait a second. Something’s up with this garbage can.” We’re going to have some tips to keep those odors at bay, because they can get pretty stinky.

TOM: Plus, now that we are enjoying the summer sunshine, let’s talk about skylights. They’re a way to enjoy more of that sun all year long. But some leak a lot more than others. We’re going to tell you which ones leak the worst. And we’re going to share a tip on the easiest way to add a skylight to your home, in just two hours or less. It can be done. We’ll tell you how.

LESLIE: Alright. We promise it’ll be leak-free. That’s what you’re saying, Tom? We can do this in two hours?

TOM: Absolutely.

LESLIE: Alright.

TOM: Yep, absolutely.

LESLIE: Also ahead this hour, we are giving away exactly what you need when you want a green, weed-free lawn this summer. We’ve got a supply of Bonide BurnOut Weed and Grass Killer Pump and Spray and it really does the trick.

TOM: So, give us a call right now – the number is 888-MONEY-PIT – or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Jo in California is on the line and needs some help with some bar-stool restoration. Tell us what they look like.

JO: Well, they have wooden arms and they’re padded, they’re cloth. And then down at the bottom, where the feet are at, they’ve got little wooden rails on them. And I need to redo them. I’ve got them cleaned and brushed down and everything. And somebody said I should use spar varnish on them and I need to know what to get to put on them – on the wood.

LESLIE: Is there any metal at all? It’s all wood?

JO: No. Everything else is padded.

LESLIE: So everything else is fabric.

JO: The arms are wood. It’s got one, two, three, four little metal legs on it, at the bottom, and halfway up. And they’re wood. And I’ve got them ready to paint but I don’t know what to put on it.

TOM: So you want to refinish the wood in a clear – the clear finish or a painted finish? A clear finish?

JO: Clear finish.

TOM: OK. So, yeah, I mean you can use spar varnish on it; that’s a fine product. What you’re going to have to do, though, is lightly sand all those wood surfaces.

JO: They’re ready. They have already done that.

TOM: You’ve done that. OK. Well, then, you’ve done the hard part if you’ve done all the sanding. But what I would tell you to do is to be very careful to get the varnish only on the wood and not on any of the padded areas or the metal areas.

LESLIE: Yeah. This is going to be about creative masking and taping things off and covering things with plastic and tape and …

TOM: Yeah. Because if you get it on there, you’re going to have a problem. So you want to mask it very carefully to keep it away from the areas where you don’t want the spar varnish to get.

JO: Yeah, OK. And you think that’s the best to get? Because somebody else said, “No, you don’t want to use that. You want to use clear acrylic.”

TOM: Well, look, it’s a personal preference. The varnish is – I believe spar varnish is oil-based, which is fine. And it’s actually – you’ll find that the oil-based finishes are a little more durable in terms of abrasion resistance.

LESLIE: And I think they give a better sheen, as well.

TOM: Yeah, it’s a good point. Mm-hmm. They take a little longer to dry but they are a tougher finish.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. With the acrylic – you know, “clear coats,” as they call it – it’s even available in a spray I’ve seen. I guess that really kind of depends on how raw the wood is, how much coverage you want. Again, masking is going to be the key here. And you really need to consider how much of a sheen you want. Think about that, as well, when you’re making your selection. Because if you want something that’s super shiny and almost has that wet look, really, that oil-based varnish is the way to go.

Dennis in Georgia is on the line and has kind of a serious situation going on over there.

Your panel caught fire? What the heck happened?

DENNIS: No, what happened was I had a new (inaudible) air conditioner put in in 2011. And I have it serviced every year. They come out summer and fall to check it out. He was out here last week, week before last. And I had an on-and-off switch out there, plus a 220 circuit breaker, OK?

TOM: Right.

DENNIS: He tells me to cut the air conditioner up but instead, he goes out there and pulls that 220 out, shoves it back in and it burnt the whole thing up. I called HomeAdvisor and they sent an electrician out here. And I had to pay $2,543. So, I think it’s this guy’s fault that put the – pulled that 220. What do you think?

TOM: Alright. So let’s back up here. First of all, did you find this guy through HomeAdvisor?

DENNIS: No. This was a company, North Georgia Equipment, that – they service my air conditioner in winter and summer.

TOM: Alright. So, you called the company to service your air conditioner. Alright. They do it every year by contract. Then they pulled the fuse out near the – at the compressor so they could probably service it, right?


TOM: And then they put it back in.

DENNIS: They have never done it before, because they always tell me to cut it up. It was a new guy.

TOM: When you say, “Cut it up,” what do you mean by cut it up? I don’t understand what you’re saying.

DENNIS: He told me to cut the air conditioner up so he could see if the Freon’s right.

TOM: You mean turn it up?

DENNIS: So he pulls that 220 breaker out and he shoves it back in.

TOM: Right.

DENNIS: This about sets the house on fire.

TOM: So when he shoved it back in, it shorted?

DENNIS: Yeah, because it set the whole panel box on – so I called HomeAdvisor. They sent somebody out here.


DENNIS: They worked for eight hours, OK? I had to have the whole panel box replaced.

TOM: Wow.

DENNIS: And come to find out – HomeAdvisor said that when I had that new unit put in in 2011, they did not have it grounded.

TOM: So, the company that put the unit in in 2011, were they the same ones that were servicing it?

DENNIS: Yes, yes.

TOM: And don’t you have receipts from them that show that they’re the same ones that put it in?

DENNIS: Oh, yes. I’ve got them.

TOM: The fact that the guy took the breaker out and put it back in – took the fuse block out and put it back in – should not have, by itself, caused that spark. So something happened in your panel – some deterioration or degradation of that switch happened – that led to this spark. He just happened to be the unlucky guy to be the last one to sort of plug it back in and have this spark or this deteriorated circuit show up kind of on his watch.

Now, whether that was caused by the bad grounding of the unit or not is kind of hard to say right now. It’s not crystal clear. But if the company put that unit in and they didn’t ground it, I think that there’s – you know, I think it’s worth having a discussion with them. But I can’t say for sure whether or not it was their fault, because sometimes panels just break down for all sorts of reasons. And that might very well be what happened here.

But I’m glad you were able to find a good, qualified pro through HomeAdvisor and get it fixed up, especially now before it starts to get really hot out.

DENNIS: $2,543. They said that’s what caused it.

TOM: Did they have to replace the compressor?

DENNIS: No, it didn’t hurt there. It just burnt my whole panel box up.

TOM: Well, sorry that happened to you but it’s kind of a gray area. So I can’t necessarily point the finger at the original contractor. But it certainly would be worth having a discussion with them about it.

DENNIS: Well, I just wanted your opinion on it while (inaudible).

TOM: Alright. Well, I hope that helps. Yep. Thanks for calling us.

DENNIS: Yeah, well, the HomeAdvisor has done an excellent job.

TOM: Glad to hear it.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

TOM: Up next, do you have a room in your house that could use a little color but painting the entire room is just way too much work? We’re going to have some tips to help you add pops of color with very minimal effort and big impacts, next.

Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: On air and online at Call in your home repair or home improvement question now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

And if you also pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll give you a chance to win a great giveaway this hour.

LESLIE: That’s right. We’re giving away the Bonide BurnOut Weed and Grass Killer Pump and Spray. It’s got all-natural ingredients, so you can use it for organic gardening. And it will kill all of those unwanted weeds and grasses in your garden, along the driveway, the walkways, the patios, around schools and so many other places.

And the best part is that it works very quickly. There’s no mixing necessary, so you can’t mess up the formula. It’s a great summertime product to keep your lawn and everything else weed-free.

It’s 39.99 and you can check it out, right now, at

TOM: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

LESLIE: Fonda (sp) in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

FONDA (sp): We are demolishing our old deck that leads to an old patio at the ground level. And the old patio has two substrates. You lead down to a plank patio and it’s like wood – 2x6s, I think – which is in awful shape. It’s probably 30 feet by 30 feet. And then it butts up to a pretty substantial cement pad that’s 20 feet by 20 feet.

And we know we’re going to demo the wood pad but it’s – the question is: what do we put in? Do we have to chop up the old cement pad, which is in great shape, because it’s so substantial? Or can we put in another cement pad next to it for the new patio? Can you go over the old cement with something and stamp it or make it just – and then the other problem is is it’s square. And I would like the new patio at the ground level to be rounder and curvier.

TOM: One idea that I have straight off is to go over the old patio with brick pavers. And if the patio is flat and strong and solid, there’s no reason you can’t put pavers on top of that. And so you could basically create a – do almost a patio makeover by preserving the concrete and putting brick pavers right over the concrete. They’re all going to assemble together. You won’t see them when they’re done.

Now, you mentioned changing the shape. That, of course, is a little more complicated because you’re going to have to build up to the edges. Part of the patio would be over concrete and part of the patio would be over traditional, built-up stone, if that’s possible. But if you want to avoid changing the shape, then it becomes a very easy project to do it with brick pavers. And of course, you have lots and lots and lots of choices on shapes and colors and all of that that you could go with.

FONDA (sp): And on the side that’s not cement, what’s under the brick pavers?

TOM: On the side that’s not cement, what’s under the brick pavers is this. First of all, you dig out, obviously, all the grass and that sort of thing. Then you put down about 4 to 6 inches of gray gravel. You tamp that down really, really, really well. Then on top of that, you lay some sand. Get that nice and flat. On top of that, you put the brick pavers and then you put additional sand in between.

But tamping and properly preparing that ground and tamping that stone really well is critical. Because if you don’t, it gets all roly-poly over the years and weeds start to grow up through it.

FONDA (sp): Alright. Well, thank you.

TOM: You’re welcome, Fonda. Good luck with that project. Just in time for summer. 888-666-3974.

LESLIE: Well, every so often, it’s nice to spice things up around the house. However, wanting to do any sort of remodel, that’s not really spicing things up. I mean that’s time-consuming, it costs a lot of money. Let’s think about accessorizing or adding in some color. That’s really a good way to change things up on a much lower budget.

So maybe consider adding an accent wall and help get that pop of color that you might be wanting.

TOM: Now, if creating the accent wall isn’t your thing but you still want to kind of jazz things up a bit, you could also think about maybe painting your window frames or the woodwork. Any one single element in the room that you can add that color to will definitely be a standout piece and give your room a bit of personality.

LESLIE: Kent in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What is going on at your house?

KENT: I have a vent that seems to maybe be – have some condensation or whatever. But I’ve got some stains that I’m – bathroom ceiling. And I have tried to spray the, you know, the ceiling stain to fix it but it continues to be a problem. And I wonder, how do I – what do I have to do up in the attic to take care of that?

Now, I do have a furnace up in the attic area, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. But I think it’s associated with a bathroom vent.

TOM: Well, typically, when you get a ceiling leak in a bathroom, it’s caused by the plumbing vent where it exits the roof. Because all bathrooms are going to have a vent pipe that goes up. It’s about 3 inches wide and it goes up from the bathroom, through the roof. And there’s a rubber boot around the pipe that seals the water out.

But the problem is that the rubber boot isn’t nearly as durable as the shingles around it. And the sun beats on it and the UV rays start to break it down. And then you’ll get a gap around the pipe and then the water, when it rains, kind of hugs the pipe, works its way down the pipe. It will drip off or find another route and end up somewhere in the vicinity of the bathroom ceiling. So that would be the most common type of bathroom leak; it wouldn’t be the vent – the bathroom fan, although it’s possible. But it’s probably not it. It’s more likely the plumbing-vent flashing.

So I would take a look at the outside, from the roof. Identify where that pipe is coming through the roof and see if the plumbing-vent flashing is deteriorated. If it is, easy fix. You take a couple of shingles off, put a new piece of flashing on, retack it back in place and you’re good to go.

Once you’ve eliminated the leak, then what you can do is spray that stain with a little bit of a bleach-and-water solution, let it – rinse it off, wipe it dry. And then I want you to prime the entire ceiling with a solvent-based primer. So, oil-based or alkyd-based primer because that’s the only thing that will seal that black in. And then you could put whatever top color you want on top of that and that could be latex, OK?

KENT: Is something like a KILZ product – is that what you’re talking about?

TOM: Yep. That’s exactly right. Yep, KILZ would be fine.

KENT: Alright. That’s what I’ve been using to take care of the stain. But it continues and so I (inaudible).

TOM: Alright. Well, if it’s – listen, if it’s continuing – the KILZ product you’re using, is it the water-based or is it oil-based?

KENT: I believe it’s oil-based and …

TOM: How are you cleaning your brushes? Are you cleaning the brushes with water or are you cleaning them with mineral spirits or turpentine?

KENT: I am using the spray can.

TOM: Oh, it’s in a spray can?

KENT: Yes.

TOM: It’s probably the alkyd. I would get a little quart or a pint can of the oil-based KILZ. You could put it on heavier that way.


TOM: And just enough to do that ceiling, alright? And that’ll make a difference.

KENT: It actually looks like it’s cracking. Is that – is it to the point where I’m going to have to repair the drywall?

TOM: Well, what’s cracking? Is there a seam that’s cracking?

KENT: Yeah, in the ceiling, right in the very center of where the stain is is a small crack.

TOM: Right.

KENT: And I’m almost afraid to touch it for fear that I’m going to put my finger all the way through it.

TOM: Well, if that’s the case, you’d better find out now and not later. So, yeah, I would poke around a little bit. But a little bit – a small crack in drywall is not a big deal. Just Google “plumbing-vent flashing.” You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation. What’s going on?

TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?

TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40 but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.

And another thing that you can think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.

TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.

TOM: Good luck with that project, Tracy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, the garbage can is probably the most underrated appliance in your home, especially that kitchen garbage. And boy, you don’t really pay it a lot of attention until, suddenly, it stinks. And it can stink. We’re going to give you some tips to keep odors at bay and you’ll be thanking us.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

What are you working on? Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Maybe you need some new flooring or maybe you’re thinking about finally adding that bathroom with the beautiful bathtub that you’ve always wanted. Oh, wait, that’s me. But seriously, maybe you’re ready to get that deck you’ve been dreaming of. It’s the perfect time of year to do just that.

Well, HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for that job, for free.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

And also, right now, on you can enter our Power Your Summer Sweepstakes for a chance to win the quiet, clean and very portable Cat INV2000 Inverter Generator.

I like this generator because it’s about the size of a suitcase. It’s easy to move around. So we’re talking, what, tailgating, camping, a job?

LESLIE: Oh, my God.

TOM: Really anything.

LESLIE: So many things where you wish you would drag out the big generator but this guy is perfect for that. And you know what? It’s pricey. It’s $749.99 but you, lucky Money Pit listener, can win one for free, right now, at If you enter between today and June 10th, you’ll be able to power your entire summer with ease.

TOM: Enter The Money Pit’s Power Your Summer Sweepstakes, right now, at for your chance to win.

LESLIE: Nells in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

NELLS: I’ve got a problem with flies. We have three heat pumps in the house and it takes in the air at the base of the windows. And every year, we get flies that come up out of those return ducts. There’s electronic filters down there and I can’t imagine where they’re coming from or …

TOM: Well, they may be nesting in the house and they’re birthing themselves right into existence. And the reason they’re probably hanging out around the return ducts is because that’s where air gets drawn into the furnace and they just might be part of that airflow.

I can’t really diagnose exactly what you need to do to get rid of those but I do know somebody that can. And if you go to the Orkin website, our show expert is a guy named Greg Baumann, who I’ve known for many years. He used to be the expert for the National Pest Management Association; now he’s the director of training for Orkin. They have an expert section on their website and if you post that question there and maybe even put a photo of the flies, I’m sure that you’ll be able to get to the bottom of it very quickly.

NELLS: Great. Okie-dokie.

TOM: Well, the garbage can is perhaps the most underrated appliance in your home. Although you put some pretty nasty things in there, it usually does its job of storing life’s leftovers right in the middle of where you live, eat and you breathe.

LESLIE: It’s true. But if you want to maintain your trash can’s stealthy persona, once a month, you guys, take all of those indoor trash cans outside and give them a thorough cleaning. You do have to clean out your garbage, guys. So, to do that, you want to mix up ¾-cup of bleach into one gallon of water and then wash the interior of the garbage can, as well as all the handles and the lids, everything. Just get it completely germ- and guck-free.

And it’s funny, when I clean the outdoor ones, I kind of throw them on their side and spray them down with a hose really fast to get the funk out first before I go and clean it.

TOM: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yep.

LESLIE: You know, it’s like you do the outside ones.

TOM: I do the same thing. I use my pressure washer and – for that job. It works great. But I also spray it down with the bleach and let it sit. And then I use the pressure washer to blast out the gunk.

So, yeah, however you like to do it, I mean that – it’s definitely a job that’s got to get done. Just make sure you leave that bleach-and-water solution on long enough so it kills the bacteria. Because that’s really where the odor forms. And then let it sit outside in the sun and dry for 5, 10 or 15 minutes and you’ll be good to go.

LESLIE: Heather in Texas is dealing with a mold situation. Tell us what’s going on.

HEATHER: Well, I have black spots in my restroom and I’m not sure if that’s mold. And I would like to know: how can he fix it?

TOM: Without seeing it, I can’t tell you but if they’re black spots, it probably is mold. And where are these spots? Is it on the wall, shower curtain, tile? Where? A ceiling?

HEATHER: In the wall.

TOM: On the wall? Do you have wallpaper on the wall?


TOM: What you might want to do is mix up a bleach-and-water solution, about 10- to 15-percent bleach and the rest water. Spray it on those spots, let it sit for a bit of time and then wipe it down with fresh water. So if there is mold there, that will kill it.

The reason we usually get mold in bathrooms is because they’re wet and damp all the time. A couple of things that you can do there is – do you have a bath exhaust fan in this room?


TOM: Well, you should have one. And this is one of the reasons you should have one, because it will draw air out of that room when it gets damp, especially if you hook it up to a humidistat so it’s only running when there’s moisture in the room. If you don’t have that, then the only thing that you could do is just get into the practice of wiping down walls or using a squeegee to wipe most of the water off the bath, the shower walls, that sort of thing every single time and leaving the door open. But if you don’t have a bath exhaust fan, you’re always going to be fighting this.

When you do repaint next time, make sure you use a paint that has a mildicide built into it because that can also further reduce the chance of developing mold. OK, Heather?

HEATHER: OK. Thank you.

TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Hey, you want to keep that sunlight, that we love this time of year, coming in all year long? Well, why not add a skylight? There’s one that’s almost guaranteed not to leak. We’re going to tell you all about it, after this.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Well, whether you are buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. Give us a call with your home improvement or décor question, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

TOM: Call us now on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend. We are here to help you get the projects done around your house. And heck, you’ve got an extra day to do that, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line and has a question about installing a dimmer, a great do-it-yourself project. How can we help you, Pam?

PAM: I have a room that has fluorescent lighting in it and there’s two entries into that room. So there’s a light switch on each door, so it’s a two-way switch. Can I put a sensor on that so that when you walk in and walk out, the lights come on and go off?

TOM: Are you asking me if you can? Can you put a sensor on that?

PAM: Yes.

TOM: Is your concern that you want the lights to come on automatically or is your concern that you don’t want people to leave the lights on when no one is in the room?

PAM: Both.

TOM: Well, I guess you could use an occupancy-sensor switch there but you would need to set it in vacancy mode, not occupancy mode. See, in occupancy mode, the light comes on when there’s motion. So, if you had a three-way, what could happen is you walk in the room, the switch closest to you picks up your motion, turns the lights on. You continue halfway through the room until the one on the other side picks it up and turns the lights off, so that wouldn’t work too well.

A better option might be to just replace one side of it – just one of the switches – with an occupancy sensor but set it in what’s called the “vacancy mode.” So what that means is you manually turn the light switch on but if there’s no motion in the room, it will automatically go off.

So we use these, for example, in the bedrooms upstairs at our house because kids turn lights on but as we all know, kids don’t turn the lights off. So, if you set it in the vacancy mode, they can turn the lights on but then they’ll go off, depending on the period of monitoring you set. They’ll either go off 1, 5, 15 or 30 minutes later.

PAM: Oh, OK. Alright. That would work. Thank you.

LESLIE: Well, skylights were a hot design trend that quickly faded. Well, it wasn’t because homeowners didn’t enjoy all that extra sunlight; they didn’t enjoy the leaking. And skylights really became notorious for leaking. But those horror stories don’t mean that skylights have to be off-limits. You can still get all that vitamin D without the high risk of water damage, with a curb-mounted skylight. That’s the difference.

TOM: Yeah. And what we mean by curbed skylights, they’re on a box that sits up off the roof. So they’re not flush with the shingles. And because of that, it’s easy for them to be sealed and flashed between the roof shingles and the skylight side itself. And those are the ones that don’t leak. They’re really the best bet for homes that are being retrofitted with a skylight, because they’re also the easiest type to install.

If you add a curbed skylight to the top of the skylight shaft, it’s kind of like putting a cap on the bottle. So you’ve got the hole ready and all you’ve got to do is cover it but with the right kind of skylight that’s not going to leak. And the curbed ones are definitely the right kind of skylight.

LESLIE: Now, when you’re shopping for the skylight, you’re going to notice that there are different types of glass and different coatings that are on the glass. So why not go with a low-E, high-performance glass that will reflect the heat of the sun back outside so that added sunlight won’t do a number on your cooling bills? Because truly, the sun comes in and it can head up your space, so reflect it back out.

TOM: Yeah, it’s a hidden cost that people don’t think about.

LESLIE: And if you’re looking for the easiest, fastest way to add sunlight – like in under two hours – think about adding a sun tunnel.

Tom, you love these.

TOM: Yeah. So what a sun tunnel is – think of it as a big, flexible tube. It looks kind of like a dryer exhaust vent but it’s about six times wider. They’re usually anywhere from, I could say, 12 to 18 inches wide, maybe wider.

And it’s not a skylight in the sense that you have to have a light shaft that goes all the way through from the roof to the ceiling. What you do is you cut a circular hole in your roof, you mount this sun tunnel in the roof. It’s kind of like – looks like an attic fan, right, from the top? All the sun goes in there and then you attach a mirrored tube to the bottom of the sun tunnel, feed it down to your ceiling. And then on the ceiling, you cut one more hole and that becomes kind of like a flushed light fixture.

So you bring the sunlight in but you’re not having to construct this huge light shaft, which is a lot of work because you’ve got to frame it, you’ve got to drywall it, you’ve got to spackle it. It’s a really tough place to work. It takes many coats of spackle. And if there’s any, you know, rough drywall work, it shows because the light is always casting against it. So the sun tunnel is a really quick and easy way that you could add a – add some sunlight to your space without all that work.

And you could put one of these in – I mean a pro could put one in in about an hour; you could probably do it in two. It’s really not hard to do and it really makes a dramatic impact. So, you can look them up online at their website for sun tunnel. Just Google it.

LESLIE: Alright. Good advice.

Jeremy in Pennsylvania is dealing with a leaky basement. What can we do for you?

JEREMY: I have a finished basement that has block foundation. And I have a small leak that – it’s not pulling up water or anything like that; it just kind of causes me some moisture problems.


JEREMY: And it just smells kind of musty and damp and things like that.

TOM: Where is the leak?

JEREMY: The leak is in that – whenever I – before I finished it, it was at the corner of the slab and the block wall.


JEREMY: And it seemed like it was coming up from underneath. I sealed it, I think, inadvertently with DRYLOK and I don’t think that that necessarily did the trick. And I didn’t know if there was another thing that I could do without gutting the basement completely, because I have laminate floor down and drywall up, if there is anything I can do from the outside.

TOM: Jeremy, when – does it get worse after a heavy rain?

JEREMY: It has before. It hasn’t gotten much worse, no.

TOM: But it seems somewhat consistent with how much rainfall you get outside?

JEREMY: Correct.

TOM: Yeah, OK. So, listen, the good news is there’s nothing you need to do inside to fix this. The problem is outside.

I would suspect, because this is in a corner, you may even have a downspout near that area of the house. But generally, if you have a leak against a foundation wall like that, it’s caused more by drainage than it is by anything like a rising water table.

So if you look outside the foundation in that area, you’re going to probably see that you’ve got a blocked gutter or you have a gutter that doesn’t have enough downspouts or you’ve got downspouts that are discharging too close to the house. When you have a moisture problem, you want to – really want to move those spouts out 4 to 6 feet. Or perhaps you could have some grading that’s too flat and not sort of allowing water to run away.

That first 4 to 6 feet around the house foundation perimeter is really the most critical. And if the water is allowed to sit and collect that close to the house, what’s going to happen is you’re going to get that moisture come right back down into the basement. So the solution is to fix the drainage outside and the inside will fix itself.

JEREMY: Yeah, I think it’s probably a combination of the two. I have a gutter right there in that corner and then I think my grading is – I think it actually comes towards the house, as opposed to running away from the house.

LESLIE: Oh, that’s a double whammy.

TOM: Yeah, that’s a recipe for a flood right there.


TOM: Yeah, start by getting the downspout out. Just put an extension on that leader and you may see an instant result.

JEREMY: OK. Terrific. Thank you so much.

TOM: You’re welcome, Jeremy. Good luck with that project.

LESLIE: Well, hey, you guys, you’ve heard about a tea garden, right? How about a Long Island Iced Tea garden?

TOM: Now you’re talking.

LESLIE: Alright, alright. I know I’m a proud New Yorker. And who doesn’t enjoy a summertime cocktail? But there’s a hot, new trend in gardens right now that’s serving up all kinds of drinks, from sophisticated seltzers to high-class cocktails. I’m going to tell you all about it when The Money Pit continues.

TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

LESLIE: Alright. If the phone’s not your thing, head on over to and post your question, just like Aiden from Florida did. He writes: “My wife unplugs all of our appliances in a thunderstorm, including our refrigerator. I have argued with her for years that she doesn’t need to do this. Can you tell me who is right?”

TOM: Well, if you get a lightning strike and you have no protection against such things, your wife may be right because it is possible that you could burn out some of your appliances. I had a neighbor, in a storm, that lost, well – and the thing is it wasn’t obvious right away. But she’d asked me to take a look at her cable system because it, all of a sudden, had gone out. And OK, I figured that she had a bad modem. And then, a few hours later or a day later, she couldn’t get into her garage because the garage-door openers had basically shorted out. And then after that, we figured out that her wireless phones weren’t working. So, it just went one thing from the next to the next. We tracked it all back to a lightning storm that had hit it.

So, in that case, there was no surge protection on the main electrical panel. That’s sort of the main way to stop this from happening. You want to add a surge protector to the main electrical panel. It’s not something you can do but certainly something an electrician can do. And what that will do is that will arrest or catch any surge from a lightning strike and stop it from working its way through to all your appliances.

So, your wife is a smart woman. There is possible damage. Probably pretty rare but it could happen and a surge arrester is the way to deal with that.

LESLIE: You know I lost my dryer in a lighting storm.

TOM: Oh, that’s right. Yeah.

LESLIE: And it was terribly expensive and then, of course, down the road led to getting a new washing machine, because you had to have the matching pair. And why not update the other one? But truly, it was just a dumb mistake by not even thinking about adding this to the house. And you learn the hard way it can be very expensive.

So, she doesn’t need to go to those extremes. You can add the surge arrester to the house and be really happy with the results. And you won’t be replacing your appliances.

TOM: Well, maybe the vegetables in your garden can be eaten but can they be shaken or stirred? Leslie has got tips on the most popular plants for cocktails, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

This sounds fun, Leslie.

LESLIE: Alright. It’s true. I mean in the summer, who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing cocktail or a mocktail? It really is fun and easy to grow some of these things in your garden that you can use to make those things. So why not get rid of the tomatoes? Grow fruits and herbs for your drinks.

And spring – right now, at the end of May – this is the perfect time to get things going. So, think about adding some zest to seltzer, beer, even cocktails with homegrown limes. They can dress a plain, old glass of water, even, and bring out the floral notes in the finest alcoholic drinks. Now, limes can be grown in pots outside during the summer or inside your house in a really bright area, when the weather does cool down.

Lavender is enjoying a moment again. I feel like every summer, lavender becomes trendy and wonderful again and everybody enjoys the smell of it. And it’s finding its way into traditional cocktails, as well. It tends to pair especially well with gin by bringing out its floral element.

Now, lavender also is incredibly easy to grow. You can do it either in a garden or in a container. And if cocktails are the end goal there, go with English lavender; that’s the sweetest variety.

And if these alcoholic drinks are not for you, add fruits or herbs from your garden to ice-cube trays for flavorful and eye-catching ice cubes. They’re the perfect touch to any garden party and they’ll get you and your guests in the mood for summer, which I think we are all in the mood for, especially after this winter.

So get those cocktails ready, mocktail or not. Enjoy the summertime, guys.

TOM: This is The Money Pit. Coming up next time on the program, are you green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? Well, that lawn didn’t happen by magic. It takes a lot of work to maintain a lawn. But we’ll have tips on how you can keep your lawn green and weed-free through the entire summer, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

Happy Memorial Day. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


(Copyright 2018 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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